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Liturgical Understanding

ORTHO WOR

Beloved in Christ may God open our eyes to see what is before them!

May we understand what it means to gather as “the Great Congregation” (Ps. 22:25).

May we apprehend the utter, unique and overwhelming power of Divine Goodness that is unleashed in all the earth as we commune with our Lord Christ, on his Holy Day, in his Father’s Holy House.

Christ is “all in all”. He is the “Alpha and the Omega” the “First and the Last” the “Beginning and the End.” He is the fullness of God. All promises God ever made to man, past or future, find their fullness in Christ

By his cross and resurrection he has created and manifested a new and permanent quality of existence called salvation! He has initiated a perpetual and enduring interaction of call and response between God and his people. He manifests it to us in Holy Worship, which is the bearer and giver of God’s unspeakable gifts to us.

Yes, the cosmic events of our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection are, historically speaking, past events. But they are ever present and active, and given to us, today, in the celebration of his Body and Blood.

Divine Service locates all of salvation history in Christ. Every event, every object, every sacred place, every communication of God to man in the Old Testament has all been assumed into the Person of the Incarnate Christ. And it is he – in all of his fullness – that we take into our sinful and dying flesh every Sunday. This is why St. Paul so confidently claims, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16)

Christ is God’s Eternal Word, God’s new creation. He is the New Adam, the New Passover, the New Manna, the New Covenant, New Temple, New Priest, New Sacrifice, New Sabbath and the New Heaven and Earth that God promises to us.

All things find their fullness in him, and beyond him there is nothing. And all things proceed from him, to us: forgiveness of sins, eternal life, salvation, hope, gladness, courage, comfort, strength and the power to conduct spiritual warfare each day with Christ as our Shield, and his Word as Sword.

And so let us do as the “Cherubic Hymn” of the St. John Chrysostom liturgy teaches. Let us “lay aside all earthly care” as we stand in heaven each Sunday with the Cherubim and Seraphim and behold our God singing Holy Holy Holy.

Ah! If only we could understand!

If only God would open our eyes! Then we would never quibble over personal preferences, sip earth’s coffee or check our texts during this Golden Hour. Instead we would be consumed in it and by it. Nor would we need pews for there would be only two positions of worship: prostrate on the Lord’s Holy Ground, and standing in victory with arms raised high anticipating the coming of our Lord.

And come he does!

What we pray for whenever we say “he shall come again to judge the living and the dead” is answered in the Words of Institution when the celebrant crosses the elements and says, “This is my body … This cup is the New Testament in my blood.”

And when the proxy of the Bridegroom hands the precious elements to the now cleansed Bride and says, “The Body of Christ!” “The Blood of Christ.” And answered yet again in the dismissal when your spiritual father says: “Now may the true Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in the one true faith unto life everlasting.”

And what Jesus answers in Eucharist (which is an installment of the End) he will answer in full, and without reservation, when he returns to judge those who are alive with his Flesh and Blood in them, and those who are dead with no life, no faith, no hope and no love for him or his coming!

Yes, “Today is the Day of Salvation,” and so Come! Lay aside all earthly care! Take eat! Take drink! And, “Give thanks to Christ for he is Good; and his mercy endures forever.”

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